The Do's and Dont's of respectful business during Ramadan

March 13, 2024.

Explore our handy guide to navigating cultural nuances during the month of Ramadan for international businesses with ties in West Asia.

The Do's and Dont's of respectful business during Ramadan

Explore our handy guide to navigating cultural nuances during the month of Ramadan for international businesses with ties in West Asia.

The West Asia is becoming a hotspot for global investment, with UAE alone showing an impressive 28% increase in new greenfield announcements. This market is attracting major stakeholders from the United Kingdom, India, the USA, France, and other countries, encouraged by a tax-friendly approach and incentives for foreign investors.

Here at MultiPass, we're approached daily by business owners looking to connect with the UAE. However, success in this market extends beyond mere business strategies to include a deep understanding of the local culture. With Ramadan now underway, it's a critical time to appreciate these cultural nuances.

As a Group with a local office and team in Dubai, we thought we’d share this simple guide to help you navigate this month, ensuring operations are considerate of Muslim colleagues, partners and clients.

Understanding Ramadan

Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community for Muslims around the world, and is a period that requires sensitivity and understanding from businesses. Recognising the do’s and don'ts during this time can help cultivate a respectful and inclusive environment.

The Do's

Accommodate flexible working schedules

UAE law mandates reduced working hours for all employees, including non-Muslims during Ramadan (with some exemptions for free-zones, executive level employees and those working in retail, hospitality and food industries). The working hours are typically shortened by two hours daily. Expect both private companies and government offices to work shortened hours.

Schedule important meetings in the morning

The timing and productivity of meetings may be affected. It’s advisable to schedule important meetings in the morning when energy levels are higher. Avoid scheduling meetings close to Iftar, the meal that breaks the fast after sunset, as it is a significant time for Muslims to engage in communal and familial gatherings.

Use Arabic greetings

It is customary and appreciated to use Arabic greetings such as "Ramadan Kareem" (Generous Ramadan) or "Ramadan Mubarak" (Blessed Ramadan) with Muslim colleagues and partners. While verbal greetings are the most common, the use of electronic greeting cards can also be a thoughtful way to acknowledge both the beginning of this important period and the Eid al-Fitr, a festival marking the end of the fasting month.

Expect a reduced pace

The pace of business can slow down during Ramadan, with decisions and processes taking longer than usual. Patience and flexibility are key.

Accept Iftar invitations

Accepting or extending invitations to Iftar (the meal that breaks the fast) is a valued gesture and presents an opportunity for networking and strengthening business relationships. Numerous hotels and restaurants in the UAE provide special Iftar buffets or packages during Ramadan. If you receive an invitation, it is customary to bring a small gift to the host, typically food items such as a symbolic box of dates or a selection of dried fruits.

Engage in charity

Ramadan is a time of giving and charity, and businesses can contribute positively by initiating or joining philanthropic activities.

The Don’ts:

Eating and drinking in public

Public observance of the fast is mandatory both in the UAE and other Muslim countries, meaning eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours is prohibited. This rule extends to driving and other public spaces, although private and international companies may have designated areas where non-fasting employees can eat and drink discreetly. However, do not offer any food or drink in business meetings if Muslim colleagues are participating.

Planning large corporate events or launches

The focus during Ramadan is on spirituality, family, and community. It might not be the best time for launching new products or hosting large corporate events that require people to stay late or focus on work beyond their usual responsibilities. Keep in mind that live music and dancing are generally prohibited in public areas during Ramadan, and entertainment venues may operate with restrictions.

Dress code

Both men and women should refrain from wearing outfits that expose the shoulders and knees. Dressing modestly and conservatively is particularly emphasised to honour the observance of Ramadan.


In summary, respecting Ramadan practices is essential for businesses operating in the UAE. Remember, successful engagement during Ramadan hinges on respect, flexibility, and an authentic commitment to understanding local customs.

As you navigate the cultural intricacies of foreign markets, let MultiPass handle your financial transactions and currency management needs. We offer quick online account opening, efficient cross-border payments, FX and transactions in AED among 70+ other currencies, along with personal manager support. Our solutions aim to simplify your operations, so you can focus on what matters most: your business growth.